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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, confined his comments to a very narrow compass. Therefore, I shall respond in like terms. The real focus of Clause 3 is what the jury is supposed to infer.
As the noble Lord knows, Clause 3 introduces in England and Walesand Clause 4 similarly introduces in Northern Irelandthe requirement that the suspect's written consent is obtained prior to the intimate search being carried out. Detainees must be informed that an intimate search has been authorised and the grounds for it. The authorisation for the search, the grounds for it and the giving of the appropriate consent must be recorded in the custody record.
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The clause also allows a court or jury to draw such inferences as appear proper should consent to an intimate search be refused without good cause. Where there is good cause, no such inference will be drawn. By way of example, a pregnant prisoner may well have good cause for refusing to consent to an intimate search. Cultural sensitivities will also be relevant when determining what constitutes good cause. Often it will be a question of fact which will pertain to the particular case. Similarly, some drug dealers will swallow drugs suitably wrapped upon their arrest to conceal evidence.
Clause 5 with regard to England and Wales, and Clause 6 with regard to Northern Ireland, enable a police officer of at least the rank of inspector to authorise an X-ray or ultrasound scan of a person arrested for an offence where he has reasonable grounds for suspecting that the person has swallowed a class A drug which he had in his possession with intent to supply or with intent to export unlawfully. Any charge made by the National Health Service would be met by the police.
We tabled a government amendment this morning. The relevant amendment that we tabled is only a technical amendment which related to the SOCA Bill and staff custody officers. We waited until the subject was discussed yesterday before tabling the amendment. Had the outcome of the SOCA Bill been different, our amendment would also have been different. We finished consideration of the SOCA Bill today. We had to wait until those issues were dealt with before tabling our amendment. All the matters that are before the Committee are properly before it in accordance with the matters outlined at Second Reading earlier this week.
As with Clauses 3 and 4, Clauses 5 and 6 require that the suspect gives his written consent to an X-ray or ultrasound scan being carried out. The suspect must be informed that such a procedure has been authorised and the reason for that authorisation. As with Clauses 3 and 4, should a person withhold consent for such a procedure without good cause, a court or jury may draw such inferences as it sees fit. The whole purpose of Clauses 5 and 6 is to give the police an indication of the need to detain someone to allow drugs to pass through their body.
The Committee will have noted that Clause 8 has some relevance to Clauses 5 and 6. It introduces the power for magistrates to remand into police custody for an extended period upon charge a person suspected of swallowing a drug. The purpose of Clauses 3, 4, 5 and 6 together is to enable those in possession of controlled drugs with the appropriate criminal intent to be brought to justice by deterring those who conceal them in a body cavity or swallow them from withholding consent for the appropriate procedure without good cause, and enabling courts and juries to act should they do so.
Appropriate intent means for these purposes having possession of controlled drugs with intent to supply them or to export them unlawfully; in other words, the provisions are targeted at drug dealers not drug users. Amendments Nos. 1, 3, 5 and 9 seek to remove the
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provision for courts and juries to draw such inferences as appear proper from a refusal without good cause. The effect would be to allow those seeking to conceal evidence of possession of a class A drug to do so by refusing consent to an intimate search, X-ray or ultrasound scan without consequence. Hence, it would maintain a loophole that the police have identified to us as one used by dealers to frustrate justice. It is for that reason that we cannot support the amendments.
I hope that I have said enough to explain to the noble Lord why the provisions are proportionate, will be necessary, and can be dealt with perfectly properly.
Lord Mancroft: I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her explanation, which was full and detailed as it always is. I am not certain still. I entirely understand the purpose, and I understand how the clauses both in England and Wales and in Northern Ireland fit together, but I am not certain how a defendant would know that, or a personwe do not know whether they are a defendant yet. I am not sure how they would know, and I am not sure what the inferences are that were proper or improper. I will read with care what the noble Baroness said. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendment No. 2:
The noble Baroness said: These are technical amendments, which are a means of remedying the fact that by error both the SOCA Bill and the Drugs Bill were drafted to insert a new paragraph 35B into Schedule 4 to the Police Reform Act 2002. They ensure that the Drugs Bill inserts a new paragraph 35C after paragraph 35C inserted by the SOCA Bill, and no longer inserts a second paragraph 35B. I beg to move.
On Question, amendment agreed to.
Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 4 [Drug offence searches: Northern Ireland]:
Clause 5 [X-rays and ultrasound scans: England and Wales]:
Lord Mancroft moved Amendment No. 4:
The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 4, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 8 with which it is grouped. The Minister has already referred to and described the purpose and the reason for X-rays and ultrasound examinations to be taken in hospital and also in a GP surgery or another place for medical purposes. This is a probing amendment. Can the noble Baroness tell us how this will work in practice? Will the police take the defendant or the person, if he still is a person, to a hospital accident and emergency department and ask him to queue up? What happens if a doctor or a nurse, who make their living caring for the sick, does not want to do the police's work for them? How will that work?
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Are people going to have to sit around for ages? Is the police doctor going to arrive with ultrasound equipment? It seems rather complicated, and it would be helpful if the Minister could describe how the Government foresee or envisage this rather complex process working. I beg to move.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The noble Lord will know that in relation to these matters it is already the position that when X-rays and other procedures have to be arranged, practical arrangements are made and defendants undergo the tests without any difficulty at all. I take it that the noble Lord is referring to Amendment No. 10. The practical ability to do that has not been an issue at all in relation to the way in which that has been managed. I can certainly write to the noble Lord in relation to the practical matters, but in this Bill we are setting out the ability to do it, and those practical issues will be resolved between the relevant agencies in due course.
Lord Mancroft: I do not intend to press the amendment tonight, or to go any further with it, but it is a bit odd to put a complex procedure in a Bill and then not be able to explain how it will work. Bills all have practical consequences, and these are difficult areas. I tried to describe a situation that might happen. It does not apparently appear to be a problem, but my understanding from people who work in the field is that those matters are difficult and there are problems.
They are particularly distressing for defendants and for their families, particularly when people find out in the end that they have been incorrectly charged. My understanding is equally that many medical care services are deeply unhappy at carrying out those procedures. That has been brought to my attention on several occasions. These are sweeping arrangements, which have not been looked at in detail.
As I said, this is a probing amendment, but there is no doubt that that was not a satisfactory or helpful answer. In the mean time, sadly, due to the lateness of the hour and the importance of other business to come, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendment No. 6:
Page 6, line 39, leave out from "paragraph" to "the Serious" and insert "35B (inserted by paragraph 10 of Schedule 9 to"
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